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It’s Time to Put Radar Back on Your Radar

It’s Time To Put Radar Back On Your Radar

Radar technology is certainly undergoing a transformation, or at least a renaissance, as Urban Air Mobility and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles along with airplane operators focus on more compact and higher performing solutions that can save on initial install and cost of ownership.

In many ways, digital is replacing radio as more modern antenna and receiver products and techniques develop, and faster and more in-depth digital processing occurs. Most exciting is Honeywell’s R&D in, and the overall emergence of, software-based radar systems.

Think about the impact of software-based radar. More compact? Check. One install and then the future upgrades including better performance completed by software upgrades and patches versus constantly ripping and replacing hardware? Check. Lighter weight? Check.

That’s not to say that traditional radar doesn’t have outstanding merits. Take Honeywell’s signature IntuVue RDR-4000 advanced weather radar for example. It uses state-of-the-art 3D volumetric technology and other innovations to give pilots the best view ever of weather conditions so they can steer clear of hazards like thunderstorms, hail, turbulence and windshear. And, we’re getting ready to introduce a new version targeted at the business jet market.

We changed the game when we introduced the RDR-4000 weather radar product five years ago. Now we’re doing it again with an exciting new radar system that – while still in prototype testing – is already showing great results on our own AStar helicopter and soon, we’ll announce a customer who is using it for their own developmental products.

The Honeywell IntuVue RDR-84K Band radar system will change the way we all think about radar and how it’s used – in the air and on the ground. Technology breakthroughs from our advanced engineering teams enable the RDR-84K to use multiple beams to “see” more things at the same time than any commercially available radar. In addition to detecting weather, the system can simultaneously scan and receive radar returns from aircraft, ground vehicles, buildings and even people.

These characteristics make the RDR-84K ideal for use on conventional aircraft of all shapes and sizes. But it also will revolutionize vehicle autonomy on things like remotely piloted and autonomous aerial vehicles, urban air mobility platforms, military ground vehicles and self-driving cars.

The RDR-84K represents the perfect blend of hardware and software. On the hardware side, it uses a unique phased-array design with electronically steered beams rather than mechanical antennas, reducing size, weight, power consumption and complexity.

The unit itself is also very small and lightweight, which enables users to install and network multiple units on their platform to further expand situational awareness. Networked units work together to provide a seamless view of the world all around the platform. In addition, with its ability to detect multiple objects simultaneously, the new radar can replace other sensors (like conventional radars, IR and HD cameras or LiDAR) on an autonomous platform, saving even more valuable real estate.

Software plays THE critical role in the RDR-84K’s performance. The radar is software adaptable so users can easily change and customize the system’s operation and performance parameters. For example, they can adjust the radar’s range to meet their specific needs or focus on certain types of objects. The radar is capable of telling the difference between different types of objects.

All of us at Honeywell are excited about this innovative new radar and its potential to enhance safety and efficiency in the emerging world of autonomous platforms. Flight tests are going very well and we’re getting excellent feedback from our test pilots and the potential customers who are helping us evaluate the capabilities of the new system.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress going forward.

Becky Sidelinger
Vice President and General Manager of Aircraft Safety Systems
Becky Sidelinger is Vice President and General Manager of Aircraft Safety Systems in the Honeywell Aerospace Electronic Solutions Business.


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